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Guide to Sjogren's Syndrome


Updated June 27, 2014

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Part 2 of 10 - What Is Primary and Secondary Sjogren's Syndrome?

Sjogren's syndrome is classified as either primary or secondary disease.

Primary Sjogren's syndrome occurs by itself, and secondary Sjogren's syndrome occurs with another disease. Both are systemic disorders, although the symptoms in primary are more restricted.

Primary Disease

In primary Sjogren's syndrome, the doctor can trace the symptoms to problems with the tear and saliva glands.

People with primary disease are more likely to have certain antibodies (substances that help fight a particular disease) circulating in their blood than people with secondary disease. These antibodies are called SS-A and SS-B.

People with primary Sjogren's syndrome are more likely to have antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) in their blood. ANAs are autoantibodies, which are directed against the body.

Secondary Disease

In secondary Sjogren's syndrome, a person has an autoimmune disease before Sjogren's syndrome developed such as:

People with this type tend to have more health problems because they have two diseases. They are also less likely to have the antibodies associated with primary Sjogren's.


Experts believe 1 to 4 million people have Sjogren's syndrome. Most (90%) are women.

Sjogren's syndrome can occur at any age, but usually is diagnosed after age 40 and can affect people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. It is rare in children, but it can occur.

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